Apple Inc. has won a round in a U.S. International Trade Commission case brought by Samsung Electronics Co. over patented technology in the iPhone and iPad, its second U.S. legal victory in a month over its largest smartphone competitor.
Apple didn't violate Samsung's patent rights, ITC Judge James Gildea said Friday. The judge's findings are subject to review by the full commission, which has the power to block imports of products that infringe U.S. patents.
The judge's findings follow a federal jury's ruling in San Jose on Aug. 24 awarding Apple more than $1 billion in damages, after deciding that Samsung had copied the look and some features of the iPhone. The jury rejected claims that Apple infringed other Samsung patents.
"Apple at the ITC is bulletproof," said Rodney Sweetland, a lawyer at Duane Morris in Washington, who specializes in trade cases. "Nobody can get any traction against them there. The lesson is: If you want to get relief against Apple, it's going to have to be in a foreign forum where it doesn't have the clout or the cachet it has at the ITC or the northern district of California."
Gildea said there was no infringement of any of the four patents in the ITC case, and also determined that Samsung had not proved it had a domestic industry that used the patents, a requirement that is unique to the trade agency.
"We remain confident that the full commission will ultimately reach a final determination that affirms our position that Apple must be held accountable for free-riding on our technological innovations," Adam Yates, a Samsung spokesman, said.